This is an 80-acre outdoor space that incorporates river bottom, marshland, tall grass prairie, and forest. Wildlife including deer, beavers, rabbits, squirrels, and birds live in this area. The Save our Seine organization lobbied hard in 2003 to keep this area as a natural habitat and was ultimately successful. Local wood carvers have carved dead trees throughout the space into representations of people and animals.
People use the space for walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, bird watching, and getting close to nature. The main path is wheelchair accessible. The sight of a group of deer twenty metres away reminds you how vital contact with nature is. There are a number of access points into the park. Most people arrive on foot from the surrounding neighbourhoods, but the John Bruce Road access point is quite close to the St. Anne’s bus system. Bikes are an ideal way to get to the park and explore it.
Every season in Bois des Esprits is a delight. In winter, the lack of leaves allows one to see the trees themselves. In spring, flowering shrubs decorate the pathways. In summer, there are many birds and animals to see. And in autumn, of course, the changing colours are a visual delight. In every season, the carvings are fun to find. New ones appear regularly. This is the largest remaining riverbank forest in all of Winnipeg. It is virtually undisturbed so one can see what our forebears experienced generations ago. Some oaks in the forest are 100 years old, whereas in other parts of the city the oaks are dying off.
Save our Seine is the group that has been instrumental in preserving this area. Many individuals came together to work on it. Since then, the City of Winnipeg has designated it a park and has contributed funds for upkeep and studies. The Manitoba Model Forest Group has set up study plots in the area to do long term bio-monitoring and they work closely with students in local schools, teaching them how to do the monitoring work. A number of individual woodcarvers have been involved in carving the trees. Walter Mirosh is one of them.
This is a space right in the middle of an urban area and it remains almost untouched. One can completely forget that there are houses and cars and people close by. It preserves river forest and gives a home to many wild creatures. In today's world, such places are rare but even more necessary.
The landscape architectural firm Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram has been involved with developing a management plan, holding public consultations, and implementing suggestions.